Enforcing payment of utility bills - a legal / moral obligation?

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    Enforcing payment of utility bills - a legal / moral obligation?

    Hi All,

    Does the standard tenancy agreement give landlord powers to enforce payment of outstanding utility bills and council tax, be it via deductions from the deposit or direct payment, given the matter is strictly between the tenant and his utility provider?

    I am excluding those providers who hold the property owner ultimately responsible.

    Can you and indeed should you enforce?

    Thanks
    D

    #2
    What standard tenancy agreement?
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Or, Which standard tenancy agreement?
      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

      Comment


        #4
        In over a decade of working in council tax I have never once seen a landlord actually pay any monies across to the council in respect of a tenants council tax (sadly, I have seen landlords who have 'withheld' monies from the tenant to pay off council tax arrears and that money certainly never made it to the council).

        Ultimately whether a tenant owes the council any money is between the tenant and the council so there is no need for the landlord to involve themselves in the issue (the council won't confirm or deny any arrears anyway without the tenant's permission)
        Previously served 10 years as a council tax advisor with a local authority but now self-employed with my own council tax consultancy.

        If your local authority disagrees with any aspects of your council tax claim, as they are free to do so, a Valuation Tribunal appeal may be required.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
          What standard tenancy agreement?
          Speaking specifically about my agreement, and I assume most ones out there, the tenant agrees to pay for utilities and council tax for the length of the tenancy. The question refers to cases where this clause or similar appears. Do landlords here care? Let's assume the tenant has permitted opening of their post.

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            #6
            As long as you (YOU!..) ensure you wrote to all utility companies and council tax at start & end of tenancies, with relevant meter readings, about account holder, not you problem, water excepted.
            I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by dominco View Post
              Let's assume the tenant has permitted opening of their post.
              No one should agree to allow that.
              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

              Comment


                #8
                You cannot retain monies for unpaid utility bills by the tenant.
                However, you can ask the providers if they intend seeking any payment from you for the time the tenancy was in place, and if so, then claim that money from the deposit.

                data protection laws should stop utility providers telling you anything about the tenant, but should allow them to tell you everything about you.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Given the responses, I fail to understand the incentive for any tenant returning overseas to pay any bill ever? No council or utility company stands any chance of extracting overdue bills. By the time the utility company threatens to disconnect - many don't do that instead just send endless reminders - it's quite possible the tenant has left by then.

                  Of course i understand it's not my problem, but is there a valid (contractually and morally) reason to say...i am going to deduct X from your deposit, and by the way I reserve the right to enforce payment of overdue bills? It strikes me as a very powerful means to agree deposit deductions. Fine line between bribery and coercion though.

                  Comment

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